You might be a chocoholic if…
• you’ve ever unconsciously eaten an entire bag of chocolate kisses while reading a good book.
• you’ve ever tried to sneak a piece of chocolate from a giant Whitman’s Sampler box at a Christmas party only to spill the entire content on the floor causing everyone to turn and stare.
• you’ve ever helped sort your children’s halloween candy so you can take your favorite chocolates for yourself.
• in the middle of the night you’ve found yourself on your hands and knees looking through the bottom of the pantries for the chocolate Easter bunny your wife bought for the grand-kids. (Why she hides the chocolate? I’ll never know.)
• you have purposely selected a travel route that goes through Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Now of course I am not a chocoholic (wink) and I don’t admit to any of the examples above, but we are in Hershey, Pennsylvania. We are staying at, no doubt, the best Thousand Trails Campground we’ve come across so far. It’s clean and well manicured with a full staff of employees to manage and maintain the park. We have a spacious shady site with full hook-ups near the top of a hill which as it turned out was a good area of the park for reliable cell service. There is a schedule of activities and events throughout the week for those that enjoy hanging around the campground. But for us, we will be going out to see what the area has to offer.
First day for us was to go to the town of Hershey. With streets named Chocolate and Cocoa Avenue lined with street lights that look like chocolate kisses, it’s said to be the sweetest place on earth. We headed for Hersheypark which is well known for it’s roller coasters. They boast they have 14 roller coasters from mild to wild. We didn’t actually go inside the amusement park, although we could see the roller coasters and hear all the screams. I’m not sure exactly when it happened but I don’t do roller coaster anymore. I used to love riding them. They were so much fun. I had a button pin proclaiming I conquered “The Beast” at King’s Island in Ohio which at the time was the largest wooden roller coaster around. Now the twists and turns and loop-de-loops make my head spin and my tummy feel queasy.
We came to see Hershey’s Chocolate World. It’s a store with more! Here you can buy all things Hershey Chocolate. We saw a variety of merchandise and apparel items with Hershey product designs and logos.
Grammi took her time browsing around looking at everything. She would hold up an item once-in-awhile to get my reaction. I found a giant one pound Hershey Chocolate Kiss and gave serious thought to bringing it home. Hmmmm…how could I get it home without it melting? I abandoned the idea after grammi gave me the stink-eyed look when she figured out what I was thinking.
We ate lunch at the food court and took the Hershey Chocolate Tour ride. We saw where children and some adults where creating their own candy bar. The ingredients are provided but the recipe is left to the imagination. Even the wrapper is personally designed. I secretly wanted to do that but we just walked on by.
We bought our tickets for the Hershey Trolley ride. The trolley is a replica of those that once traveled on tracks around the city attached to an electric cable. I remember seeing these types of cablecars when I was a kid in Cincinnati. The conductor would ring the bell and sparks would fly as it passed by. Our trolley is not limited by cable or tracks as we cruised around the town of Hershey. Aboard the trolly were a conductor and an elder gentleman tour guide dressed appropriately in early twentieth century attire. The tour guide used a microphone to point out the sights on our seventy-five minute ride. He told stories and an occasional joke that would get a few chuckles from the captive riders but mostly his humor fell flat. The tour, however, was interesting and informative; it was a good way to get a quick glimpse of the town.
We spent a day in Harrisburg, the capital of Virginia. It’s a small size big city located along the Susquehanna, River. While there we discovered a hidden gem, the Pennsylvania National Fire Museum. Housed in an old three story firehose built in 1899 it contains an outstanding collection of artifact and memorabilia. A 1935 Mack tillered ladder truck with wood ladders sits in the center of the apparatus room. There were steam engines both horse drawn and motorized on display too.
There was a hand pump fire engine also called a “handtub”. These apparatus took many people to operate. They were pulled by hand through the streets to the scene of a fire. Then personnel would operate a single piston hand pump by pulling up and down on long pump handles. A bucket brigade would keep the tub supplied with water. This advancement in technology allowed firemen the ability to spray water further through a hose than simply tossing a bucket of water.
One of the most fascinating things for me was the living area upstairs. Seeing where these men worked and lived was an education. There was a fire pole for sliding down when the alarm sounded. I was particularly interested in reading the old logs and accounts from some of the men that worked there.
The next day we sought to see the Pennsylvania Dutch which aren’t Dutch but rather German. Lancaster was disappointing. It’s a shame that in this country we see everything as a commercial opportunity. I would have never thought the Amish would be marketed to such an extent. Having been to Etheridge, Tennessee just a few weeks ago where the Amish sell their goods and wares from their front porch, I suppose I was expecting something similar. The main road is lined with Amish markets, bakeries, butcher shops, sweet shops, restaurants smorgasbords, and gift shops. I saw advertisements for buggy rides, tours to an Amish farmhouse and country-side bus tours. We stopped a couple of times walking around the different markets and shops but was definitely unimpressed. This is a tourist trap with mass produced products lining the shelves. Not what I expected.
We did find one farm where a wheelbarrow of cantaloupes, the size of soccer balls, sat along the edge of the road. “$1.25” hand-painted on a board was leaning against the tire. A tin can with a slot cut in the top with the message, “Thou Shalt Not Steal” was placed inside the wheelbarrow. We bought one. After tasting the melon we wished we’d bought two.
We left Hershey and it’s surrounding area with the feeling that we were glad we visited but saw no reason to return soon. Grammi tucked away a few souvenirs she bought. I on the other hand didn’t buy any chocolate. I’m not too upset though. I happen to know this is not the only place on earth to buy Hershey’s chocolate.